An included life means enjoying the same opportunities that other citizens enjoy – paid work, lifelong learning, participation in community networks, groups and organisations. It means having friends who share similar interests and living the life you want to in the community of your choice. For most people, it means being defined by your interests, activities and abilities – not just by your disability or the health or social care services you use.
For 200 years, health and social care systems have tried to help people by clumping them together in groups, away from other citizens. Special Schools, Hospitals, Day Centres, Care Homes and gated retirement villages all tend to enclose people into a separate world, depriving us all of the diverse relationships and contributions that we all need to thrive.
Social inclusion work aims to reverse this by helping people stay in community or regain their place in the wider community that lies beyond the health and social care system.
There are lots of reasons why it is important to support people to live an included life, including:
- An improved standard of living comes from educational achievement and paid employment
- Health improves when people get out more, participate in exercise and sports or take part in social and recreational activities
- When people take up positive roles and make a valued contribution to the community they generally feel better about themselves, have raised wellbeing and feel a greater level of self-esteem
- Getting involved helps people to positively structure their time and take on commitments towards others
- All this means that people get more of their support, more of the time, from informal networks rather than professional agencies, and so helps to direct scarce public funds to the people who need them most.
Someone said once that we all need somewhere to live, something to do and someone to love. Being included helps a little with some of this. ·